How I Got Here: Trudy Adams

Current Position: Trudy Adams is the principal of Blue Egg Consulting, a sales, marketing and customer service consulting practice. She is also one of the coaches at the 21st Century Dry Cleaners consulting team. Adams is a familiar presence and much sought after presenter and featured speaker with dry cleaning groups across the United States.

Groceries: Adams got her start at Wegmans, the wildly popular and privately held U.S. regional supermarket chain headquartered in Rochester, New York. A stay at home mom during the day, she began her career working in the evenings as a part-time deli clerk. Adams said, “I worked the night shift and my husband worked days so we kind of tag-teamed it.”

Her hard work and dedication eventually propelled Adams into various managerial roles, most notably Customer Service Manager. “I made my way up through the company working in almost every department,” recalls Adams.

Adams’ philosophy of high quality customer service was borne out of the principles she gleaned from her time at Wegmans. She firmly believes that the fame of Wegmans stems from excellent customer service, cleanliness of its stores and superior product offerings. Even with less expensive grocery stores in the area, customers flock to Wegmans in droves and are willing to pay a premium for the unparalleled customer experience. “They’re the best grocery store chain to work for and to visit,” said Adams.

Supplies: While still at Wegmans, a management recruiter requested to speak with Adams about an opportunity at another company based in Conklin, New York. Initially, Adams was hesitant to make a change. She didn’t want a new job because she was happy at Wegmans. “What is this cleaning company and why would I want to go there when I have this great job as a manager at Wegmans?”

Jeff Schapiro had launched a new company as a supply house for dry cleaners. Schapiro’s passion for Cleaner’s Supply and his unmitigated vision of what he desired to build at his new company resonated with Adams. It was clearly evident that he wanted someone who was trained by Wegmans to help him create and cultivate a standard of excellence at Cleaner’s Supply.

After five interviews, Schapiro was able to lure Adams away from a successful nine year career at the beloved supermarket chain. “It was the very beginning of Cleaner’s Supply and I was fortunate enough to click with him (Schapiro) and get on his first management team.” The experience of taking a company from the very beginning to what it is today is something Adams relishes with a sense of pride and personal ownership.

Adams fondly reminisces about the co-workers she spent a great amount of time with during her prolific fifteen year tenure at Schapiro’s company. “Working in every single department, side by side with amazing people…the people at Cleaner’s Supply are the most wonderful people to work with and for.”

Higher Education: Adams took every class Wegmans had to offer. The company made a variety of classes available to its employees on topics such as customer service, leadership training, accounting and management. These online courses were free to the employees as long as they earned a passing grade. “There were whole series of courses that prepared you on how to become a manager and a leader. And because they were free, I took every single one of them!”

When Schapiro hired Adams at Cleaner’s Supply he offered to send her to college and take any course that she wanted. She attended SUNY Broome and Binghamton University (both located in Binghamton, New York) and enrolled in a bunch of night courses such as Excel, PowerPoint and Value Stream Processing. “I took every class I possibly could and Jeff paid for it,” Adams said with glee.

Venturing Out: The first position Adams held at Cleaner’s Supply was Customer Service Manager and the last position she had was Vice President of Sales and Customer Service. After fifteen years of helping build Cleaner’s Supply into what it is today, Adams started getting a fair number of requests from other companies to come on board in a consulting role. With Schapiro’s blessing a consultant was born and Adams began the transition into a new career.

Word Travels Fast: Many companies outside of the dry cleaning industry were the beneficiaries of Adams’ new venture. Somehow, word got out in various dry cleaning circles across the United States that Trudy Adams had her own consulting practice. Multiple inquiries and offers began pouring in for Adams to implement in their companies what she learned at Wegmans and subsequently honed at Cleaner’s Supply over the past quarter of a century.

Customer Service Philosophy: Adams espouses the opinion that owners of dry cleaning establishments expend good amounts of time and energy into capturing new customers but not enough laser-like focus into developing growth and expansion among existing customers. “Prospecting for new customers is much more difficult. It’s much easier to take the base that you have and do everything you can to grow them first.” She helps her clients’ customer service teams implement programs, proven principles and touchpoints to bridge the chasm between new customer acquisition and existing customer development.

Fore! For fun and recreation, Adams loves to play golf. She explains, “It is a passion and an annoyance at the same time.” Adams continues, “It is the most frustrating game I have ever tried to play! But I love the frustration; it must be a part of my personality.” The sport is a reminder to Adams to maintain that “never give up” attitude. “The first time I ever broke a hundred, I felt like I had just won The Masters! I was so proud and the next day I couldn’t hit the ball to save my life.”

Bucket List: She can scratch The Masters off her list of things to do. In April, Adams was able to fulfill her dream of attending the legendary and prestigious golf tournament held each year at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. “They sure know how to treat the patrons. Their customer service was outstanding.”

Still not scratched off the list is a trip to Australia. She hopes to make that excursion a reality in the not too distant future.

“I don’t have a huge bucket list. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do most of the things I want to do.”

The Great Outdoors: After recently relocating to Charlotte, North Carolina, Adams has plenty of gardening to do at her new home. “I just love the outdoors.” She also enjoys hiking and taking her dog for leisurely walks in the neighborhood.

Family Matters: Adams has two adult sons. Gregory, 30, lives in Arizona. Maxwell, 29 and married, lives in North Carolina with a newborn baby expected to arrive in October. Adams is thrilled about her forthcoming role as a grandmother.

About John Leano

John Leano can be reached by e-mail: Leano@BryansCleaners.com or Twitter: @JohnLeano or www.facebook.com/johngleano